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Thinking of Nico
July 18, 2012 5:54 AM   Subscribe

On this day in 1988, just three months shy of what would have been her 50th birthday, Christa Päffgen, better known as Nico, died. Her stark, no-frills delivery conveyed a kind of guilelessness and honesty that many listeners continue to find refreshing. These Days. I'll Keep It With Mine. Chelsea Girls. Femme Fatale. All Tomorrow's Parties. My Funny Valentine. The Fairest of the Seasons.
posted by flapjax at midnite (31 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like her a lot. But it was the stuff she did after Chelsea Girl that was really original and interesting. All That Is My Own, for instance, or Frozen Warnings.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 6:09 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Love Nico - particularly The Marble Index, memorably described as the Paris Dakar of pop music albums.

Awful mother though. In Nico Icon there's a bit where it reveals she fed her son for the first two years pretty much solely on crisps (potato chips).
posted by treblekicker at 6:11 AM on July 18, 2012


About Frozen Warnings (linked in Fritz Langwedge's comment just above) - open the YouTube page in two separate windows. Start one, then start the second one 7 seconds later. It's totally kickass.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:14 AM on July 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


[I made the correction to the original post flapjax indicated. ]
posted by taz at 6:21 AM on July 18, 2012


[taz, you rule]
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:23 AM on July 18, 2012


An inadvertent casualty, though, of taz's ace moderating, was the removal (in the same comment) of a Nico website I'd linked to. So, here it is again! (WARNING: Comic Sans in full effect there)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 AM on July 18, 2012


Holy schnikes, Flapjax, the "Frozen Warnings as a Round" trick is awesome.
posted by Shepherd at 6:28 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had just come across Chelsea Girls last week and marveled at how long and tortured it was. I played it 7 or 8 times. All I got was the song and artist name, so I didn't know if it was new or old or what. It sounded like something that would have fit right in on the Last Unicorn or that Charlie Brown special where he is at camp. Sometimes the contextless void you can find yourself in on tumblr works to your advantage. I also found Feist's Anti Pioneer that day.
posted by cashman at 6:30 AM on July 18, 2012


I fade in and out of enjoying Nico. Sometimes I'm charmed by her originality, and sometimes I get that feeling like when your little cousin puts on a loud, off-key performance and you have to pretend to like it, but then it starts to drag on and on and you start feeling kind of embarrassed for her and all your hipster friends are like "oh yeaaah, I'd totally do her," and you're like "ew, in this analogy she's still my six-year-old cousin," etc.
posted by Mooseli at 6:39 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I still appreciate the Nico version, but These Days was actually written by Jackson Browne when he was 16. For some reason he didn't get to record it until after the Velvet Underground album came out.
posted by destro at 6:39 AM on July 18, 2012


These Days was actually written by Jackson Browne

And it's been covered by lotsa folks! Here's a Mefi post on the song!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:43 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another fantastic music-related post from flapjax at midnite. You're a treasure.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:44 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love her music, thanks.
posted by Forktine at 6:51 AM on July 18, 2012


I'll Keep It With Mine is a fantastic song. I've always found it among the most touching of Dylan's songs. I've always loved that Nico covered it.
posted by OmieWise at 6:51 AM on July 18, 2012


Oddly, just this week I have noticed how many songs I own about Nico:

Nico by the Cult, Nico Superstar by Gene Loves Jezebel, Godstar by Psychic TV (features Nico) (and IIRC was covered by PTV in the 1990s as a dedication) and, if I am not mistaken Rose of Avalanche's Veleveteen.

I have two Nico records. They are prefectly solid musical efforts.
posted by Mezentian at 6:52 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Craig Ferguson did some drumming for her.
posted by stuartmm at 7:25 AM on July 18, 2012


Start one, then start the second one 7 seconds later. It's totally kickass.
Flapjax, did you discover this by accident?
I do a late-night radio show, I'm going to use this!
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:33 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The movie Nico-Icon was pretty lurid, but Nico's keyboard player during her final years wrote Nico: The End, a very funny book about his experiences with the not-so-famous-anymore diva. The book chronicles the last gasp of not just Nico, but also of the legacy of Sixties rock.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 7:36 AM on July 18, 2012


Wow, it's been like 25 years since I've heard anyone mention The Rose of Avalanche. Love those guys.
posted by malocchio at 7:48 AM on July 18, 2012



These Days was actually written by Jackson Browne.

And we all thought he was some old jazz guy at the time, with that name.

And who was, along with Bob Dylan and Lou Reed, was one of many legendary names romantically linked with hers.

And she was in La Dolce Vita... She stood at the central crossroads of popular culture of the late 60s at many of the right moments. Had she lived, her's would be the most interesting autobiography.

The Rough Guide to the Velvet Underground has an excellent chapter on her music and life.

I like the Marble Index but Chelsea Girls I will always love -- it will always be tied up into many a memory of 1968.

Ah, this is a post I wish I could have made...
posted by y2karl at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2012


All Tomorrow's Parties is still one of my favorite songs of all time. Something about her voice just makes it a transcendental experience.
posted by SNWidget at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2012


Lots of love for Desertshore, especially Janitor of Lunacy.
posted by medeine at 8:25 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flapjax, did you discover this by accident?

No, I had a feeling it would work well as a round, due to the slow, calmly unfolding nature of the melody and of course because it's based on a drone throughout (no chord changes).
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's NICO ICON at YouTube (full movie, 1:07)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw her perform in Trenton NJ at the legendary King Tut's City Gardens. She wrote "Don't Die" on an album a friend had her autograph. Shortly thereafter she died...
posted by cosmac at 8:56 AM on July 18, 2012


To save some effort, here's a youtube doubler of Frozen Warnings with a seven second gap.

I'm mostly just aware of her work with the Velvet Underground. Looks like I've got some new albums to pick up.
posted by sandswipe at 3:17 PM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Houston punk legends Really Red recorded this tribute.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 4:34 PM on July 18, 2012


Good Christ Flapjax, the "in the round" trick is just unbelievable, it would sell !!

I love the VU but am not so much a Nico fan. All tomorows parties is a great track with its wall of sound feel and Nico droning over the top, but apart form that... Still, she got to hang out at the factory with lou, john and andy. And joe, billy name and the warhol superstars, so a pretty cool life.
posted by marienbad at 4:36 PM on July 18, 2012


A chain smoking, heroin addicted Teutonic beauty that just kills me when she sits by herself banging out dirges accompanied by her harmonium. I love Marble Index and Desertshore. John Cale's version of Frozen Warnings from Nico: Icon is unbelievably good. As good as his version of Hallelujah.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 5:01 PM on July 18, 2012


Nico is amazing. Chelsea Girls has never gripped me, but The Marble Index, Desertshore and The End are some of my all-time favorite albums. They would all feature in my personal top 5 of former Velvet Underground members' solo albums.

Nico is the archetypal artist that was peripheral to some art project that went on to do something completely amazing and unrelated.
posted by Kattullus at 5:51 PM on July 18, 2012


Another one about Nico: Song for Nico - Marianne Faithfull
posted by naoko at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2012


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